The Playgoer: The Broadway Brand

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Broadway Brand

The Broadway commercial arena was certainly the fulcrum of the American theatre during those "formative" years of the first half of the 2oth century. But that reign, many of us have been taught ended around the 1950s, with the rise of Off-Broadway, regional theatre, the emergence of such major writers as Albee and Shepard from the fringes, etc....And yet today, the identification of all theatre with the Great White Way persists stronger than ever in the public perception. Why?

Well as today's NYT explains, this perception is not left to chance anymore. The Leage of American Theaters and Producers a few years ago embarked on a bona fide full-out p.r. blitz to "brand" Broadway. Sure there has been grumbling among individual producers out for their own shows, and disagreement over whether to continue the ad campaign, but I'm sure it has had an effect. How else to explain all-time record sales at a time of all-time lows in quality?

And how else to explain the ever widening gap in perception, public interest, and coverage between the ossifying theatre of tourism and the dramatic arts.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't we boycott ?

Shouldn't we tell our friends and their aginig boomer parents that they shouldn't attend shows, because it only keeps tickets at an unreachable (and unwatchable) rate.

Wouldn't the cold shoulder push the business to Off Broadway anD Off Off and to Chicago ?

J. Kelly said...

Today's Broadway theatre may not be your thing, but I had a wonderful time in New York as a theatre tourist earlier this spring. Of the six shows I saw, three were great: Sweeney Todd, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Drowsy Chaperone. The first two made me rethink what is possible in theatre; the latter was delightful entertainment.

Despite seeing 40 or so shows in Toronto this year, I did not see three shows as good as these.

In short: I think you're a spoiled snob who should count his theatrical blessings. But I do love your blog!

Anonymous said...

How much did you spend ?

Also - what is your occupation ?

The Playgoer said...

Snob though I may be, Canadian J, I'll gladly admit those shows you mention are fine shows. I can attest to Sweeney and Lieutenant, at least. "Drowsy," though, is Canadian anway, as you well know. So why are you giving us credit!

In fact, when you consider Sweeney and Lieutenant are from London... still not very impressive about B'way represnting the best in "American" theatre. It's just a venue for others to sell their theatrical wares to the widest audience willing to pay top dollar.